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Waste360 - Trash Meets Art with Recology’s Artist in Residence Program

To kick off 2017, Recology is gearing up for its next exhibition on January 20, 21 and 24, which features works of art from Ramekon O’Arwisters, Anja Ulfeldt and Jinmei Chi.

Each year, San Francisco Bay Area artists have the chance to put their creative skills to the test with Recology’s Artist in Residence Program. Established in 1990, the program helps encourage the reuse of materials by allowing residents and artists to look at trash in a different light.

The program, which includes a four-month residency, a stipend, access to Recology’s large art studio, miscellaneous supplies and equipment and a spot in a three-day public exhibition, challenges residents to create artistic works of art from materials found in Recology’s public disposal and recycling area.

“One of the most unique things about this program is the fact that many of the same materials enter our waste stream over and over again, and so far, more than 150 artists-in-residence have responded differently to using those materials for artistic purposes,” says Recology Artist in Residence Program Manager Deborah Munk.

Recology receives more than 100 program applications annually, and together with an advisory board, the company selects nine residents to participate in the program each year. The selected residents, which rotate every four months, are expected to work in Recology’s studio either 40 hour per week for a full-time residency or 20 hours per week for a part-time residency, greet and speak to weekly and monthly tour groups, craft three pieces of art for Recology’s permanent art collection, converse with the media and leave all art created during the residency with Recology for 12 months for exhibition purposes at various offsite venues.

To kick off 2017, Recology is gearing up for its next exhibition on January 20, 21 and 24, which features works of art from Ramekon O’Arwisters, Anja Ulfeldt and Jinmei Chi.

Ramekon O’Arwisters: Smooth the Edges

Social-practice artist Ramekon O’Arwisters creates collaborative art projects that feature folk-art traditions to foster a culture of community building. For his residency, O’Arwisters crafted Smooth the Edges, which includes hundreds of shard pieces that represent disconnection, damage and fracture. This piece serves as a metaphor for personal and societal rupture, and also as a strategy for repair.

"My experience at Recology has been extraordinary. Through my research as artist-in-residence, I have garnered a greater understanding of how to imbue objects with the power to express universal themes that help us understand and appreciate ourselves and others,” says O’Arwisters.

During the exhibition, O’Arwisters will provide sanded shards for visitors to take with them as a reminder to smoothen out their personal sharp edges as they travel through the world and interact with others. Additionally, he will host a Crochet Jam on January 21, where exhibition visitors can learn one crochet stitch to create their own work of art.

Anja Ulfeldt: Beyond Repair

Artist Anja Ulfeldt uses art to explore personal and collective memory through the lives of well-used objects. And for her residency, she created a work of art entitled Beyond Repair that resurrects objects that have been cast into obsolescence, ultimately providing a unique outlet for mourning, accepting and embracing change.

“The work I've made at Recology is site-specific and by extension addresses issues around obsolescence and the environment. My interests as an artist lie in the relationship between aesthetics and perceived value. Related language addresses design, architecture and infrastructure,” says Ulfelt. “At Recology, my interest in domestic infrastructure has let me collect and work with discarded building materials, furnishings and appliances as an inspiration for my sculptures. For example, my piece entitled Selectively Informed (South Window) employs a live video feed disguised as a window to provide real-time information about the world outside. The tangible flaws and outdated resolution of these scavenged cameras and screens draw attention to the evolving nature of mediated experience.”

Jinmei Chi: Dizz Mall

Artist Jinmei Chi produced a fictional store that illustrates the absurdity of our culture of consumption for her residency. Using recycled retail materials, Chi crafted nonsensical products to put on display in a store-like setting.

"As someone who has always been on the consumer end of the supply chain, it’s a wake-up call to see the mountains of trash that goes through ‘the dump’ every day,” says Chi. “I see my work process as an indiscriminating survey of objects discarded each day at Recology. Through Dizz Mall, I am creating a disorienting experience that is both seductive and repulsive, merging the division between supply and waste.”

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